Wales furious after referee's timing mix-up

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The Independent Online

England and Scotland both qualified for the quarter-finals of the Emirates Dubai Sevens yesterday but Wales missed out in controversial circumstances.

The English scraped into the last eight on points difference after a disappointing day that yielded just one victory, over Tunisia, a draw with Canada and defeat to South Africa. Ben Ryan's men will face Samoa this morning, while Scotland tackle Sevens giants Fiji after victories over France and the Arabian Gulf.

In the other quarter-finals, South Africa will face Kenya and New Zealand lock horns with Argentina.

England's new-look side were flat and disjointed in their opening 27-12 win over Tunisia and they imploded against Canada, conceding three tries in the last three minutes to give up a 24-5 lead. They then went down 22-10 to the reigning Dubai champions, South Africa, in their final match, but squeezed into the last eight on points difference from Canada.

Ryan said: "The journey we have taken today has certainly had twists and turns and was certainly not what we wanted. We could have done with some better performances but tomorrow is a Cup quarter-final and anything can happen. It will be a big ask for us tomorrow but we must come out and give absolutely everything."

Scotland opened the tournament with a 41-5 defeat to New Zealand, the reigning World Series champions, but showed great character to hold their nerve and edge a tight game against France.

Les Bleus equalised with barely a minute remaining but Scotland had time for one last attack and secured the 17-12 victory with a try from Glasgow's Ruaridh Jackson. The 27-5 win over the Arabian Gulf was far more routine, with tries from Jackson, Chris Kinloch, James Thompson, Scott Newlands and Stephen McColl.

Wales failed to qualify and were left furious by a refereeing mix-up which cost them a chance of victory in their crunch pool tie with Samoa. Wales trailed 19-14 with 20 seconds left on the clock and Samoa were gearing up to defend a scrum on their own five-metre line when the Irish referee, David Keane, blew the final whistle. Full-time on the IRB Sevens circuit is generally indicated by the official time-keeper, who sounds the hooter, and not by the referee's watch.

There was no guarantee Wales would have been able to turn over possession and score the match-winning try, but their coach, Dai Rees, was disappointed they were not even given the chance. "Every other game today was stopped on the hooter apart from this one. The referee told me he timed it on the watch. So why do we have external time-keepers?" Rees said.

Wales were left to fight for third-tier honours in the shield competition, facing Tunisia today.

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